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  • Writer's pictureHelena

Compassion through unprecedented times

Its been a while since I last posted anything on this site but if I am honest, I don’t think I really knew what I wanted to say until now..

I’m sure for all of us, its been a very trying few weeks and we are all struggling to keep some semblance of normality in our lives, where we can.. which is tricky given that these are not normal times!

If I am completely truthful, I have found it really hard to adjust.. and I wanted to just share with you some of the things I’ve been struggling with so that you know you are not alone… and also share with you some of the things I have been doing to manage or adapt to these changes….

Having gone from being busy as a coach/hypnotherapist with my regular clients, engaging some ones and watching a developing coaching business in schools start to flourish, I’ve found it tough to put a pause on that.. Schools are closed with no date on when they will reopen, and many of my clients prefer face-to-face interaction so its been a challenge to move to other ways of working with them (which isn’t as scary as I thought it would be!), or delaying appointments until the lockdown is over.. However it doesn’t change the fact that I now have much less income which is something I worry about every day! So I have been brave and done something I really didn’t want to do and that’s go back to being a pharmacist. I have very mixed feelings about this, as I do enjoy pharmacy and am pretty good at it (well, I used to be anyway!) But having given it up to follow my dreams, it feels a bit like I have failed….. Clearly with the current circumstances, you could argue that I’ve had little choice over this – we need another income and the pharmacy world needs extra support. But my inner critic doesn’t always see it that way! In her eyes, I couldn’t hack it in my dream career! And is she right?? Deep down I know she isn’t but its been tough dealing with her incessant badmouthing.. my dream has been put temporarily on hold whilst I use my experience and expertise in another area… I can still continue to coach (and I am doing so!) AND I been given the opportunity to be a bit creative about how and where I deliver my services. Now is the time to maximise those technological resources like video calls and even simply using the telephone..

Becoming a school teacher wasn’t necessarily on my list of things I wanted to achieve this year, however I was prepared to give it a go. To begin with, I admit I was a little OCD about this and really came down hard on my kids giving them a fairly strict timetable and expecting them to follow it willingly! This obviously didn’t work and after we’d all had a bit of a meltdown, we have become a lot more flexible about how and when we do schoolwork. But its taken A LOT of patience, understanding and courage for me to step back and stop worrying that my kids future is going to be destroyed by the current crisis! Fortunately for my kids, school have been really proficient in setting work so I’m now in the mindset of feeling happier if they just crack on as and when they can and ask for support when they need it.. Luckily, my kids support each other with some of the tricky maths questions – they are definitely NOT my forte!! I have to keep reminding myself that they will be ok, though.. They will have time to catch up when they get back to school. And all kids will be in the same boat anyway, and I have every confidence that all schools will have a plan in place to manage this once we finally get back to normal!!

Usually, during the week, I used to enjoy having the house to myself for most of the day. Now I am dealing with a house permanently full of people…. Either needing me for something or wanting to talk as they are bored or distracted. As someone who both needs and really enjoys her own space, on her own, I am really struggling with this.. It feels like everywhere I go in the house, there is someone there!! Aarrgghhhh!! Having severe restrictions on our freedom to go out and about has impacted on this too… one period of exercise a day and one trip to the supermarket is tough.. Although I do totally understand and support that direction at the moment; doesn’t mean I have to like it!! So, I am having to set some boundaries in my own home; closing the door to my loved ones and asking them to give me some space… Luckily, I have my office/therapy room which is my happy place and the weather has been kind so sitting peacefully in the garden has helped.. I have also been making the time to practice mindfulness – whether that’s meditating, painting, baking or just sitting reading a book, I’ve needed it.. For those of you who struggle with finding the time/space to switch off and relax, I have made a number of relaxation tracks available for free on my Resources page of my website – please feel free to access and use them!! They’re quite short (10-15 minutes long) and, listened through headphones, may just help you find some peace and quiet away from everyone else!

Information overload has become a bit of an issue for me over the last few weeks.. whether that’s from the news on the TV, social media or family discussions about the COVID-19 crisis.. A few days ago, I had really had enough of well-meaning people on social media telling me to be positive, or giving me suggestions of what to do with my time or pleas not to colour my hair and I lost it… I was completely and utterly fed up with people telling me how to feel, what to do or not do and I’d had enough.. Yes, I had a toddler tantrum and it wasn’t pretty… but I needed to do it.. I needed to feel those feelings and let them out, since if I didn’t and kept then bottled up inside, over time it would impact hugely on my own mental wellbeing…. And whilst I may not be proud to admit to a toddler tantrum at the age of 44, I know that it is OK to feel those feelings, let them out, face them and then move through them to get to the other side… I also know that its OK to have a break from the outside world when it all gets too much and you feel overwhelmed…. So that’s what I have been doing – I limit the amount of time I spend on social media, I only watch the news when I feel up to it and I keep in contact with people when I want to… During times of overwhelm and overload, I have found journaling my thoughts and feelings to be a complete saviour. It allows me to vent and offload whatever is in my head and heart… and in the process of journaling, I have found that I invariably calm down and figure out solutions to my own problems or concerns. I don’t do it every day; usually when I feel like it, which works for me as its less personal pressure – my inner critic would be having field day if I committed to writing every day and didn’t do it!! It would be yet another thing I have failed at!!

So exactly what am I trying to say?

The key word for me at the moment is compassion… for others, yes, but mainly for YOURSELF!! Compassion is practising kindness, being understanding, patient, encouraging and showing empathy. It is feeling a common humanity with others (we are all in this together!) and being wholly present in the moment (mindfulness). When we are critical and unkind towards ourselves, it can trigger our fight/flight response (stress response) as we become threatened by our own imperfections as human beings. We are all perfectly imperfect yet it feels like we are all striving for impossible perfection!! When we feel threatened, our minds and bodies shut down to protect ourselves so we may feel overwhelmed or panicked or stressed (or all three!).. As a human beings, we function best in the mammalian care giving system; we are programmed to respond to warmth, gentle touch and soothing talk. These compassionate behaviours and actions make us feel safe, encouraging the release of oxytocin and endorphins – the happy hormones. So being kind and compassionate to ourselves is the ONE THING we can do to help us LIVE, not just survive, these challenging times…

And no its not self-indulgent or selfish to do this… The more we are self-compassionate to ourselves, the more we have to give to others….

So put YOUrself FIRST for a few minutes every day… Set some boundaries over your space and time;; allow yourself to feel your feelings if you are having a bad day and work through them – just don’t stay there (!!); find a mindfulness activity that resonates with you to help you be present in the moment, switch off from the outside world and just be; and remember..

You are doing the best you can in tricky circumstances, you ARE enough and you are definitely not alone!!

Love & light

Helena x

PS. I am still available for “virtual” coaching, hypnotherapy, advice and support if you need it – just drop me a line! You know where I am!

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